Doctors are now urging people with high blood pressure to monitor their BP frequently at home. Doing so gives people an idea of how their BP varies and can inspire them to be more concerned with their health. It also lets doctors make quick adjustments in dosage to maintain BP in the safe region. But how accurate are these home blood pressure monitors? Study says that home BP monitoring can be unreliable in 5-15 % cases, based on the accuracy level used.
Let’s discuss below the accuracy of home BP monitors.
Why needed at home?
High BP is the leading cause of death and disability in the world. BP monitoring and treatment can lessen the effects of this disease. You have to ensure that home BP readings are accurate.
What study says about the accuracy?
A research team tested several home monitors and found they were inaccurate within 5 mmHg in about 70 % cases. The devices moved away from 10 mmHg mark in about 30 % cases.
Comparing the measurements
Before relying on your home BP monitor, compare its readings with your clinic’s BP readings. It’s important to take multiple BP measurements and make a treatment decision based on them. Taking readings at home can empower patients and help doctors get a complete picture, instead of taking a snapshot on time.
A study has done an experiment on 85 patients. The researchers compared readings of the volunteers’ home monitors to the gold standard. Two observers took multiple BP measurements blinded to each other. A third person witnessed their readings.
The average difference between the two readings was acceptable. But most individual devices confirmed clinical inaccuracies.
The team also found that the inaccuracy is more in males than females. They claimed that many factors could explain their findings.
Arm shape & size, age of blood vessels and the type of BP cuff are not always considered when a BP machine is designed.
Other factors leading inaccuracy
Individual differences, like person’s age, size, and medical history are also contributing factors.
Steps to get the best accuracy from these inaccurate BP machines
To get the most accurate BP measurements at home, follow these steps:
- Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages and don’t smoke 30 minutes before the test.
- Support your back and sit quietly for 5 minutes with feet on the floor.
- While taking readings, make sure your elbows are level with your heart.
- Follow the machine instruction to read your BP. Wait for a minute. Now take the 2nd reading. Average the readings if they are close. If not, repeat and average the 3 readings.
- Don’t worry if a reading is high. Relax for a couple of minutes and try again.
- Keep a record of your BP readings when they are taken.
Home BP monitors can be an easy way to check your blood pressure at your comfort. But you can’t fully rely on their accuracy. So you should rather visit your doctor for a BP checkup.